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I am the person who posted below on the birthday party invites and some kids being excluded from parties outside of school. I also made a very sarcastic reply to that post recently which was deleted (fortunately.) I am sorry for being rude to those who replied to my post. The mama bear in me is taking over this keyboard!<br><br>
It turns out my ds who just started school in Feb. was being bullied by the oldest child in class and he was excluded from a recent party. (Otoh, he was invited to 3 others so I guess statistically that isn't so bad.)<br><br>
I feel like a really bad mom because I started my 4yo in school late in the year knowing it would make it more difficult for him to adjust because I needed a break. I have no ext. family here and my dh works and travels a lot. Lots of issues came up - ds is very attached and it took about 4-5 wks for him to be able to stay for the entire 4 hr day and not cry when we said goodbye in the mornings. I was told attendance was mandatory and I could not take my ds out of school to attend another function - big disagreement over that one with the teacher. I was marched to the director's office so the attendance policy could be explained to me. Then, I had some safety concerns because the school takes the children to the beach every Fri. and even walks 3 blocks along a busy 4-lane hwy to go to the library. Then ds started to tell me that one of the boys hit him a lot. I spoke to teachers a couple of times and it seemed like the hitting had stopped.<br><br>
A second boy who is best friends with the first hitter started hitting my ds and even bit him on an outing. This is a 5 yo who is also larger than my ds. I reported the bite to the teacher and the response was that it was very out of character for that child. The child received no consequences other than a brief scolding by his mother. As the weeks passed, ds kept telling me that the child kept hitting and being mean to him. I told my ds not to play with the hitter and to tell the teacher when it happened. Major guilt, I should have done more sooner. I also brought it up in our parent teacher conf a month ago. The last straw came on Mon. when I picked my ds up, he had been hit in the face by the same child with a hard lunch box! I asked the teacher what had happened and she said that the child did it accidentally, he was just boisterously swinging his lunchbox. His consequence was that he had to apologize, get my ds a cold pack and let someone else hold his lunchbox. I told her that the child has been hitting my son and the two other children he plays with a lot. Later in the day she called to say that there may have been more to it because the talk at lunch was about birthday invitations and the lunch table sided with my ds when the bully started saying my child wasn't invited to his party so he was angry at the time.<br><br>
ANYway, to make a long story even longer, I wrote a formal letter to the school documenting the bullying. The bullying happens when he knows he isn't going to be seem by a teacher, he makes threats, hits, kicks, says mean things, bit, and is targeting kids who play with my ds. The director said she would do some fact finding and speak to the boys. My ds came home sad yest. because there was retaliation against him after the boys were "talked to."<br><br>
The teacher called tonight to say that she really thinks that it isn't directed at my ds, the boy is just very boisterous and it happens with other kids too. Despite the fact that one of the other parents also told the director verbally that her daughter says the same child has been mean to her and my ds and hits them a lot. Today they did a conflict resolution exercise in class which involved using a peace rose and teaming kids (bully and my ds) up to work together. DS said he had a good day and the bully was friends with him.<br><br>
To be fair, there have been some good things about the school. My ds actually likes the school and it is Montessori so he has done some interesting things he really enjoys. The environment is beautiful and there is a music teacher that comes once a week. DS likes his teacher and she put a lot of effort into helping him adjust to school. The ratio is 15:2 so there should be adequate supervision.<br><br>
Otoh, I really feel as if they are not taking the bullying issue seriously. The teacher said that issues like this come up in all schools. They didn't alert the other playground attendants to the situation until I insisted. Even my dh noticed that my ds was deferential to the first hitter when they met at our neighborhood park one day. Very unlike my ds who is a spirited and confident child. The worst part is that the children are so mean to each other. EVERY day there is talk like "i'm not your friend, I'm Charlotte's friend or similar stuff about who is invited to play after school and who is not. I don't want my ds being bitten, hit, and treated unkindly. I am appalled that the teachers let this talk go on at the lunch tables. Don't the other parents hear what goes on? ARE all preschools really this tough? Isn't age 3 or 4 too young to take these hard knocks? Why would parents allow their child to invite 2/3 of the class and exclude the other 1/3? I feel guilty because I let this go on for so long and am sensing that the school thinks I am overprotective and difficult. Okay, so, my dh agrees that I am overprotective and difficult.<br><br>
It really seems to me that such young children are so much better off with their moms.<br><br>
I visited 17+ schools and so many just did not seem to be able to do a good job caring for the kids and/or had not very nice facilities. I am taking my ds out of school, but am still losing lots of sleep over this. I hope his self-esteem isn't too damaged and I really wish he had gotten a nicer introduction to school. WE are going to spend the summer hanging at the pool with our friends, taking swimming lessons, and taekwondo.
 

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First <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug">! You need one. And you I am impressed by your apology (didn't see the other thread).<br><br>
As far as the invitations and general meanness concering the "you're my friend today and you're not" stuff: This happens in the International Preschool here. I am beginning to think it is cultural because this does not exist at all at my dd's Russian preschool. Every day at the International Preschool one child is invited to the home of another child, and for that day those two (there are more than one couple) will parade around saying they are best friends. Or one member of the couple will become possesive of his/her partner-of-the-day, saying things like "You have to be my best friend today because you're coming to my house."<br><br>
Here it is the parents who are starting to ask questions about the healthfulness of this kind of behavior. I believe they have started to change this practice. They also acknowledged that some of the children are left out.<br><br>
One of the teacher's helpers actually feels uncomfortable reprimanding the children for these things. She doesn't know what to do.<br><br>
As for your school, I am very uncomfortable with many of the things going on there. Mandatory attendance for 4 year-olds? But I understand completely your dilemma.<br><br>
My dd was having trouble with two boys at her new preschool. We talked to the teacher. So far dd has come saying the children were nice to her. Wish it would be that easy for you. My guess was that she had trouble due to language barriers. Now that she's been there longer, the others seem to have adjusted to her. Maybe this "mean" boy is having trouble adjusting to your ds in some way? It's just an idea, something to think about (instead of instantly qualifying him as a bully or a kid with a troubled homelife - not saying you did this).<br><br>
One time I saw someone here talk about giving a party to help her ds get to know his classmates and they him. She actually did it before her dc started, but maybe this would work for you. No special occasion, just a cool party for all the kids in his class.<br><br>
Good luck!
 

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I didn't see your sarcastic post, but I'm guessing it may have been because of what I posted. I have read your other posts about your struggles at preschool and I should have connected your concerns. This school is NOT a good fit for your family. Mandatory attendence in preschool is ridiculous. Walking to the beach on a highway is terribly unsafe. Allowing teasing, hitting, and biting to go out without making a real effort to stay on top of it is unacceptable. A teacher should be present at the lunch table and should absolutely correct any "mean" talk. The hitting and biting should be curbed by intense supervision and well thought out strategies for the aggressive child. Not saying he should be punished -- but there should be a plan in place for providing him extra attention and supervision to "coach" him through whatever he is going through.<br><br>
This school is failing you and your child on more than one level.
 

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A few thoughts...<br>
The "you're my friend - you're not my friend" is fairly common in the 4s classes I think. It is very upsetting when you first see/hear it though - I remember being so mad I cried when it happened to my dd1. I think they are going through a stage of independence and figuring out that they have some power over who is their friend, that they can choose that, instead of being friends with OUR friends' children. That said, it is completely unacceptable for them to vocalize that and hurt children's feelings. I have had private discussions with my dd2 about how she would feel, how the other child must feel, etc. It seems to be working. Yesterday she listed a child she had previously refused to play much with in a list of her "best friends" while we were chatting in the car.<br><br>
The school should have a policy of no birthday invites being handed out/delivered at school - most schools do. If they don't, ask why not. That is really not acceptable. On the other hand, 2/3 of the class being invited and 1/3 not does not seem to me to be terrible. One can only handle so many 4 year olds running around.... I would think differently if all the kids but one were invited. Hard part is that kids get excited about the party and will talk so even if the invites go out through the mail, talk can still come up. This is another thing I talk to my kids about - that talking about a birthday party (your own or someone else's) can really hurt feelings so it is absolutely not to be done at school.<br><br>
I agree that you want a positive experience for him - and in future research/decision making I would put more emphasis on a loving teacher who is approachable and concerned with your concerns than a nice facility. I agree that Montessoris (at least the ones I've seen) have the coolest toys but that is not the end all be all for me. I went (for the first year with both my dd1 and dd2) to a co-op so there was one teacher, 16 kids, 8 parents each day. A parent at every station and things like what you described were nipped in the bud.<br><br>
I'm sorry that happened to you and your ds. I can imagine how upsetting it must have been. I would try hard to find some kind of group where your ds can feel accepted and safe so he can "override" that previous experience if you know what I mean.<br>
Kirsten
 

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As a teacher and former babysitter of young children, I just wanted to let you know that at least in the US, the "I'm not your friend" syndrome, lasting minutes to days is VERY common among kids 3-5. Obviously it's not a great thing and teachers should intervene but it's not indemic to your preschool. It happens everywhere I've worked.
 

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I agree that very fluid friendships, and the inability to be friends with more than one kid at a time is very common in this age range, regardless of school or, for that matter, outside of school. But, that seems to be about all that I would say is "normal" about this situation. We do a non-Montesorri school, so I may be off base here, but I'm wondering if the emphasis on self-direction that I believe to be a cornerstone of the Montessori method is somehow seeping into a lack of teacher intervention?<br><br>
I think the teachers should be much more involved in helping the children learn to respect and be kind to each other. I know that my child's teachers are very proactive on teaching and modeling this sort of behaviour.<br><br>
I do not understand how there could be so little supervision that the sort of physical bullying you describe could happen in the first place. My child is in a large class (20 kids, 2 teachers) and the kids are never undersupervised like that. The teachers see everything, even into the restrooms and such. DS gets his share of bumps and bruises at school, but they are always the result of playground accidents from his enthusiastic glee at climbing and jumping -- not the work of some other child. That alone would make me want to change schools.<br><br>
I guess you've just had a really hard lesson in what to look for if you decide to continue with preschool. The good news is that not all schools are like this at all and you shouldn't have to settle for one that is!
 

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makes you wonder what kind of parenting is going on with the bully's family.<br>
i bet those children are bullied at home, thus they have learned it.<br><br>
where are the teachers?<br><br>
i hate that about some teachers. seems they turn their attention elsewhere.<br><br>
bullying should not be tolerated. and i am sure the teacher knew and did nothing. HOW AWFUL<br><br>
I feel for you!<br><br>
horrible it starts so young.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Evanandanna'smom, thanks for your take on it. I am glad to hear that despite the friendship issue being a common issue it can be dealt with effectively by a school. The playground is supervised (about 4 watching 40 kids) but the children run around so quickly and there is a big tree and a playset that you can't see behind depending upon where you are standing. A child could run by and hit another and not be observed. The older child knows he isn't supposed to hit so he is clever enough to do it surreptitiously.<br><br>
I should have known when I had to rescue a little boy who was pinned on the ground and having a chair pushed into his face by a larger boy when I was observing the first week. The teacher was on the cordless phone on the other side of the playset. Talk about ignoring warning signs! I did tell the teacher that I thought the Montessori method of building the older children up to be role-models had backfired because the two oldest children were the ones hitting and it was obvious the pecking order of the class had them on top. She did not like hearing this.<br><br>
SLeepies, this is my main gripe. The teachers continue to say that the hitting isn't directed towards ds, it just happens - this is a typical bully issue, authority figures do not take the child's word for what it happening.<br><br>
Update: I spoke to my ds' teacher WEds. night and told her of my concerns that my ds behavior has changed and he is less confident since starting school because the older child is intimidating/hitting him. I reminded her that I had brought this up a month ago at our conference and since than my ds was bitten and hit in the head with a cooler. The teacher said she really didn't think that the hitting was particularly directed at my ds, it just happens a lot on the playgound. I also pointed out that the child who plays with my ds the most verified that the older child is mean to her and my ds and hits them, throws their lunchboxes on the ground. I also told her that there was retaliation against my ds on Tues after the older chldren were talked to. I asked her if ALL of the teachers knew to keep an eye out for my ds and the older child and she said the 3 teachers in his class did but not the other 3 who monitor the playground. AAAGGHHH! Anyway, I didn't want to just stop school abruptly when ds knows the last day of school is next week. I want to try and let him finish out with the group so that he doesn't think he had to quit school because of anything HE did or didn't do right. They did a nice conflict resolution exercise on Weds and the older child has to go to the director's office daily to tell her what he did that he is proud of and then not so proud of. He knows if he does it again he is going to have to stay home from school 3 days and no park with his parents. So they are doing something but the school also feels that my ds and I are not a good match for them. I am one of the more vocal parents and have challenged them on the issue of walking the children on the busy hwy and attendance so my popularity level was low and my badness level was high with them before this came up! They will mail a refund check for the summer tuition I paid.
 

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Lots of good advise. Did you ever talk to the parents of the girl who was also being bullied? Just curious as to her take on this whole thing.<br><br>
Are these same kids going to be in this class next year? Hmmm, if they are, I would consider another school. Doesnt sound like they are in sync with solving this problem in a satisfactory way IMHO. Its too bad this had to happen for his first school experience.<br><br>
If youre staying, I still suggest talking to other parents about the issues that concern you, walking to the beach, handling the bullying etc. Maybe together you can approach the school for next year, if you plan on going back.
 

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<div style="font-style:italic;">I should have known when I had to rescue a little boy who was pinned on the ground and having a chair pushed into his face by a larger boy when I was observing the first week. The teacher was on the cordless phone on the other side of the playset... (and later in the post)... The teacher said she really didn't think that the hitting was particularly directed at my ds, it just happens a lot on the playgound.</div>
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Please don't be offended, but I'd like to highlight this as a demonstration of signs to look for to other parents who are shopping for preschools for next fall. Yes, this was a great big warning sign. The fact that the director says that "hitting happens a lot" is even a bigger one. Hitting should not be common on the playground and if its accepted as "OK" by the director, then you probably don't want your kid there. One of my questions for preschool evaluation was about the tolerance level for violence, even the kind that many people dismiss as "boys will be boys".<br><br>
By contrast, supervision at the preschool my son goes to is very close. There are pre-determined places where the teachers stand so that they can see every inch of the playground and what goes on. Intervention into any negative situation is virtually instantaneous. They can't help it if things start, but it doesn't last long! And teachers shift so that if one is attending to something, another moves so supervision is still good. Sort of like how baseball players shift to cover positions. There are almost daily lessons about being a good friend, about working as a team, about respecting others. So, it is possible to find places that take this sort of problem seriously, and are even proactive so as to avoid them in the first place. Don't be afraid to keep looking for a better match with your values!<br><br>
I am so sorry that this has continued. I think you are doing the best thing by having your child finish the year, but I hope you are looking for somewhere else for next year. Even if all of the "bad" kids are leaving, the attitude of the staff, and especially the director, is going to carry over into all situations. If you want to look for further action, you might nose around on the internet to see if there is a "preschool review" discussion board for your town and post something about your experiences so other parents are warned. And I would definitely write a letter about why you are removing your child.
 

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RAinsmom, thanks for your post. I didn't talk to the mother of the older child myself, the school director said she would involve them. I thought it would be better to have a neutral party discuss the issue. I have met the other child's parents and my impression is that they are very involved and do not approve of that kind of behavior. They are nice people and volunteer a lot at the school. I think that for whatever reason, that child has an issue with mine and I'm calling it a bully situation because my ds is smaller, younger, has fewer friends and is the new kid, and was bitten, hit, and intimidated by the older child for a period of time. The parent of the other girl who was hit by my ds had the same initial reaction as the teacher - "I haven't seen the older child bothering or hitting yours and I'm at school a lot but I'll check with my daughter" She phoned back in 3 minutes to say her daughter said yes, that boy is mean and he hits us a lot. Just another thing I have learned, unless you ask your child directly, you may not know what's happening. NO, we are definitely not going back in the fall. I've got to decide between two other schools that are really nice. ONe is tradtitional developmental-based and the other is Montessori.<br><br>
You are correct, EvanandAnna'smom, this school's problems stem from the leadership and teachers. AT a parent mtg this week the parents brought up issues like lack of communication on the school's part and too many activities in May and the director said she pretty much wasn't changing anything about the schedule, we had better get used to it because all schools are busy in May. The school has a very high turnover rate of students and this is hard on the other children. The parents brought this up at the meeting too. I think the director's response is that the other children were not a good match and you don't always know that up front. Good idea to look for the preschool reviews, I have already told a friend who was considering this school for summer about our experience.
 
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